First battle of El Djorf

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The First Battle of El Djorf (or El-Djorf) took place in September 1955, during the Algerian War. The second battle occurred a year later and resulted in another French defeat. This battle was as much a military success as it was a moral one for the Algerian forces.

Context[edit]

Algeria had been under French rule since 1830 and had experienced numerous revolts against the government since then. These revolts are said to have failed because of them being regional segmental revolts.[citation needed] The revolution of November 1954 was, in contrast, a national revolution.

The battle occurred a year after the start of the Algerian war of independence. It took place in the Aures, in what was known as the heart of the revolution. The French military had arrested Mustapha Benboulaïd (a.k.a the lion of the Aures) who was the head of the ALN in that region.

An internal conflict in the ALN resulted in colonel Bachir Chihani being named head of the Willaya I. He started by gathering the troops that had dispersed over the region, and managed to organize a meeting in the region of El Djorf, north of current Tebessa Province. This meeting was aimed at reorganising the troops to relaunch military activities. 300 fighters attended this meeting.

The French, having infiltrated those troops, knew exactly where the meeting would take place.

The battle[edit]

The French deployed 30000 troops to encircle the meeting place and to quash the revolution. When Chihani was done with his speech, he got the information that they were encircled.

After calming the troops, he divided them in small groups under the commands of Adjel Adjoul, Sidi Henni, Abbés Laghrour, Lazhar Cheriet and other officers of the ALN, and ordered them to attack precise points of the opposing formations.

The battle lasted many days and nights, with the ALN finally succeeding in breaking the enclosure. 220 of the 300 fighters made it out of the encirclement.

Repercussions[edit]

Many of the officers who attended the meeting opposed it, because of the danger they were exposed to. But in fact Chihani was aware of it and knew that there was a spy in his troops. This is why he chose El Djorf as a meeting place: rough terrain.

The French army has a death toll of 400 troops in addition to material damage, as 2 helicopters and 6 planes crashed during the battle. This battle is taught as part of future French officers' training at the Saint-Cyr academy.

References[edit]